Without a doubt, most students say affording study abroad is the number one hurdle they face in the pre-departure process. For many there’s no “golden ticket” that covers program fees, tuition, travel and personal expenses. By using a combination of funding opportunities such as financial aid (grants or subsidized loans), scholarships, savings and creative fundraising, most students are able to realize their study abroad dreams and see the world.
Scholarships and Financial Aid
AIFS encourages students to fill out a free Financial Aid Application at fafsa.gov and then make an in-person appointment with your Financial Aid office to discuss your aid eligibility and opportunities. We also strongly suggest applying to all the scholarships you can. Students who take the time to put together a good personal essay statement (to be tweaked and recycled for different scholarships) and get a solid letter of recommendation or two can apply to those to many different scholarships- ones that are study abroad specific or just for college fees.
Working and saving
Working and saving are also important to save for study abroad. Students tell us that they work more hours and try to cut expenses to the bare minimum in the months leading up to their study abroad program. Financial experts agree that eliminating unnecessary expenses is the fastest way to increase your savings. Take a look at your monthly expenses and think about what you can live without- take-out coffee? A streaming service? Internet shopping? Think about the travel you’d like to do while you are abroad. Is that worth a few months of sacrifice?
More and more, students are also using their time and energy in creative funding efforts. Using your network to help raise funds is key. You network includes your friends and family- in person and on social media as well as members of the organizations you may belong to- church, temple, mosque, school, local community, etc. You will be surprised how willing people are to support your academic goals- but you have to ask! Also, support can come in more forms than monetary contributions. For example, ask your social media friends to share the story of your study abroad goals.
Our Top Ten Creative Fundraising Ideas
1 – CROWD FUNDING
Tell your story! Upload at least 4 images and videos of you- your life, your studies, your goals, your program, your study abroad city (YouTube has plenty of short travel videos) and then share the details on your social media- over and over again. Websites like GoFundMe.com are popular- and remember to update your generous donors on your adventures overseas as a thank you!
2 – ORGANIZE A YARD SALE
Have a clear out at home, and consider asking for donations of “stuff” from friends and neighbors (everybody has a “Goodwill box”!) Sell refreshments on the side to the folk who come to browse.
3 – START A 50/50 RAFFLE
Sell tickets & split the pot 50% with the lucky winner.
4 – HOLD AN ONLINE AUCTION
Auction off your stuff, artwork, etc on Ebay or an online yard sale- sell on platforms like Mercari, Facebook Marketplace, Poshmark.
5 – USE YOUR TALENT
Are you a crafter, artist, artisan? Sell your creations using an online platform like Etsy, Ebay. Are you a singer, musician, poet or performer? Create a virtual performance & ask for donations. Create a master class & charge for it- Do you code? Are you artistic? Can you sew? Maybe you bake…
6 – HOST A BAKE SALE
If your skills lie in the kitchen, consider establishing a small baking menu and take orders – people are always looking for homemate celebration cakes for bachelor parties, baby showers, birthday and school celebrations.
7 – UPCYCLE AND FLIP FURNITURE
Buy thrift store/yard sale furniture, restore and sell online – ebay, Facebook Marketplace, etc.
8 – OFFER YOUR SERVICES FOR ODD JOBS
Everyone has something they need help with. Offer your services: mowing lawns/raking leaves/yard work, dog walking/pet sitting, babysitting/tutoring, etc. Apps like Nextdoor will connect you with your local neighborhood.
9 – RECYCLE BOTTLES
Does your state have a container deposit law? 5-10c per container may not seem like much, but it all adds up over time, especially after a family celebration! Maybe friends and family will save theirs up for you too.
10 – HOST IN-PERSON FUNDRAISERS
Suggestions include: Spaghetti dinner night, pancake breakfast, ice cream social, bingo night, game night tournament, host a concert, spoken word, performance, car wash, holiday gift wrapping service, “Sip & paint”. A local business may be willing to agree a commission rate/ or to donate a percentage of takings if you guarantee them custom on a night that is typically quieter.